Only played this for a little bit (since like the first release, this is my first time playing version 9-seems like it's coming along really well, hell at this point it feels polished and good). I think you should look into jdog's Minor Tribes code. It makes it so that there is no diplomacy--basically you are at war (but the AI just treats you like a barb city, so it doesn't sacrifice early production or anything on it) with everyone until you discover writing. And at the point you discover writing you get the basic introduction diplo screen only with other civs that have discovered writing. Makes the early game a bit more intense, and makes it much, much harder to worker steal. As the AI defends it's workers better, and treats your aproaching units as hostile. Just had a start where I'm close to two other civs, and I'm in the corner of the continent, so not really worried about barbs, they aren't really spawning near me. And it allowed me to worker steel from one of the close civs pretty easily. I think it would be cool to implement minor tribes until the discovery of Diplomacy Tech. It just seems like until these survivor groups re-institute basic diplomacy rules, they'd be treating any massed armed groups as hostile anyway. So this would make sense. I can think of two cons though. First, I'm pretty sure it's SDK (you'd have to ask jdog) and I know you are trying to stay away from that. However it is already coded, so all you'd be doing is copying source code and recompiling. Second you might prefer allowing diplomacy from the jump.